The Detroit Lions need other NFL teams to believe they're actually willing to draft Tua Tagovailoa and the most effective way to do that have Matthew Stafford trade rumors swirl. And swirl they did late Wednesday night as WDIV-TV reported talks of sending the franchise out of town have been underway for weeks.
The article is incredibly short and cites sources close to the team. It also includes screen shots from Kelly Stafford's Instagram in which she comments on speculative articles about her husband's potential landing spots outside of Detroit.
Considering the goal of drumming up interest in swapping the third overall pick -- or even having a team trade up to No. 2 with Washington -- a conspiracy theorist would have no problem connecting the dots and believing this is all intentional smoke.
But Lions general manager Bob Quinn wasted no time denying the report.
"100% False!!" he wrote in a text message to the Detroit Free Press. Quinn, of course, has to say this, and it's 99.999999 percent likely that he's telling the truth.
Quinn and coach Matt Patricia were given a mandate to win now. Sending the most accomplished quarterback in franchise history out of town would make it harder to do that. There's also the fact that Stafford's contract was restructured last year to speed up a $6 million bonus. If he's traded, the Lions will take a $10.7 million cap hit.
In the dollars and sense sense, it doesn't make pass muster.
The Free Press does not, in one of my favorite sentences of the year:
The Staffords did buy a house in Newport Coast, Calif., last year, south of Los Angeles, and are close with WDIV reporter Hank Winchester, who often appears in Kelly Stafford's Instagram videos.
So to sum up: don't hold your breath waiting for a blockbuster trade to happen. But do wonder how this rumor came to be in the first place and who stands to gain from it. It is all very weird and fun, as the offseason gossip should be.
Anything to distract us all from our miserable lives.